Henry Surname Genealogy

Henry, originally Henri, was a
French given name that was brought to England by the
Normans in 1066. Its roots are Germanic,
from the Heinrich name composed of
the elements heim meaning “home” and ric
meaning “power.”
The Scottish
versions were Henry and its variants Hendry and Hendrie where the “d”
intrusive. This also happened with Henderson.
There were a number of Irish versions of the name – such as
McEnery and McKendrie – generally from Gaelic sources.

Henry Resources on

Henry Ancestry

Henri was a king in France in
the 11th century and Henry developed there as a surname, mainly in
France. The numbers today total some
45,000. Brittany was an early
concentration of the name. There are
now more in NE France, particularly in Lorraine

Henry in England often became Harry which provided the route to the
Harris surname. There was a William Herry in Colchester in 1337,
a William
Harrys in Oxfordshire in 1406, and a Harris family at Radford manor in
Devon from about

Henry as a surname was slower to develop. One Henry family came about through the old
Welsh patronymic system:

  • Henry
    Williams was Welsh
    and lived at Briton’s ferry between Neath and Swansea in the early
  • while
    his son John, who came to London in the employ of the Earl of Pembroke,
    his father’s first name Henry as his surname.

son Philip Henry was a
Nonconformist clergyman in Shropshire who
was imprisoned
for his
preachings during the Restoration. His
son Matthew preached at a time when the political climate was kinder
and became
known for his Bible commentaries.
Matthew had four sisters, one of whom, Sarah Savage, kept a
diary which
was published. Her descendant Sarah
Lawrence wrote a genealogy of the family, Descendants
of Philip Henry,
in 1844.

Many of the Henrys in England were of Scottish
origin and were to be found more in northern England.
Alexander Henry, who had earlier emigrated to
America with his family, returned to England in 1804 and established
with his
brother Samuel the cotton merchant company of A & S Henry & Co
Manchester. They prospered.
The next generation of the family ventured
into politics and became MP’s, John with the Conservatives and Mitchell
the Liberals.

Some other Henrys in
Lancashire were of Irish origin; while James Henry from Derry came to
Durham in
the 1870’s to find work in the mining industry.

Channel Islands.
French Henrys brought
the name to the Channel
Islands. Thomas Henry was listed as a
Jurat of Guernsey in 1527 and Peter Henry in 1547.
There were 152 Henrys in the Channel Islands
in the 1881 census.

Scotland. The Henry, Hendry,
and Hendrie names
all appear in Scotland. Hendry
is somewhat the more common today,
followed by Henry, while the Hendrie version, probably originating in
is much smaller in number

The Henry and Hendry
names have spanned most of Scotland – from Aberdeenshire in the
northeast to Ayrshire in the southwest
. Henry was found
further south, in the Scottish borders, and further north, in the Shetland Isles where the
of Bayhall had been established in Walls parish as early as 1622.

Ireland. Griffith’s Valuation in the
mid-19th century showed two clusters of Henrys in Ireland:

  • the first was in Ulster, mainly in Derry but also in Antrim and
  • the second was on the west coast, in Sligo and also in Mayo.

Ulster. Gaelic
Henrys were to be found in Ulster. O’Henerys or McHenrys derived
from a Gaelic chieftain O’hIinneirghe at Cullentra in Tyrone who
migrated to the Glenconkeiny valley in Derry. And there were also
two Henry
Gaelic groups in Antrim.

One notable Henry from Derry was Denis Henry, born in Draperstown in
1864. He was the only Roman Catholic to have become an
Ulster Unionist MP and be the Lord Chief Justice for Northern
Ireland. He had in fact come from a well-established wealthy
Derry family that had arrived from London at the time of the 17th
century Ulster plantations.

More of the Henrys in Derry were descendants of
Scots who had crossed the Irish Sea from Ayrshire.
John Henry reportedly held lands near
Coleraine in 1681; while the Rev. Robert Henry of Fairview House was
the minister
at the Castle-Dawson Presbyterian church for 57 years – from his
ordination in
1743 until his retirement in 1800 at the age of 92.
Both of these families had offspring who
emigrated to America in the 1700’s.

Elsewhere. Henrys were
also on the west coast, in Sligo. Paul
Henry was born in the small village of Cloonlarhan around the year 1770. By the mid-1800’s, the main numbers were to
be found around Achonry.

Henrys who came to America during the colonial era tended to be either
Scots or
Scots Irish.

Scots. Patrick Henry was
a famed orator in Virginia in pre-Revolutionary days.
His father John had come from Aberdeenshire
in 1727. Patrick’s elder brother, Judge James Henry, was the
of the
Henry family in Accomac county, Virginia.
He was a wealthy man and friend to George Washington.

Hendry from the Isle of Arran off Ayrshire fought on the British side
in the
Revolutionary War and afterwards stayed.
He and his family moved to Georgia in 1796.
His grandson James migrated to Florida in
1852 and his son Francis was a prominent rancher there.
Hendry county in Florida was named after him.

Scots Irish. Other
Henrys were from Ireland
Rev. John Henry arrived in Maryland in 1710 and was the Presbyterian
at Pokomoke church in Somerset county.
His grandson John Henry was Senator of Maryland in 1789 and
its Governor.

Not much is known about John
Henry – the immigrant to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania – except that
probably came from Ireland in the 1720’s, married a Huguenot, and died
1747. He was the forebear of five
generations of Henry gunsmiths. This
family line extended for nearly two hundred years – from the first
Henry in the 1750’s to Granville Henry who died in 1912

James McHenry, later a well-known surgeon in the
War, came in 1771 reportedly for health reasons. William Henry, also a distinguished
patriot, had arrived earlier in

“William Henry came from a well-to-do family in Tyrone. His father had remarried after his mother had
died. William, not liking his new
mother, ran away to America.”

William Henry died in South Carolina in 1819 at
the reported age of 104.

Thomas Henry meanwhile was a stowaway carpenter who had
arrived in Virginia with a Welsh wife sometime in the 1760’s. Their third son Robert had fought as a lad at
King’s Mountain in 1780 and was later an eccentric pioneer in
Asheville, North
Carolina. He established an early health
spa at Sulphur Springs.

Other Arrivals. Some Henrys arrived from
elsewhere. According to family lore, John Henry had come to
Philadelphia from
Amsterdam around the year 1800, also as a stowaway.
He and his wife Elizabeth were considered
Pennsylvania Dutch. They settled in
Scott county, Virginia. Later Henrys
migrated west to Kentucky.

A number of Acadian Henrys
had found refuge in Louisiana, arriving there from France in 1785. Their numbers included Jean Baptiste Henry,
whose line was traced in Sandra Henry’s 1999 book The
Families of Jean Baptiste Theodore Henry.

Canada. The first Henrys in Canada
(or what was then New France) came from France.
Robert Henry, aged twenty and illiterate, arrived at
Trois-Rivieres from
Normandy in 1665. His descendants were
caught up in the Acadian deportations of the 1750’s, with one son
Pierre returning
to France

Alexander Henry, said to have been related to
the English Nonconformist minister Matthew Henry, came to Montreal in
1760 soon after
French defeat and established himself as one of the pioneers of the
British-Canadian fur trade.

“An easy and dignified raconteur, Henry was invited
in 1776 to give an account of his journeys at the Royal Society in
London and
to Queen Marie Antoinette at Versailles. Later he published his Travels
and Adventures in Canada,
considered an adventure classic.”

He joined forces in 1792 with his
nephew of the same name to become a partner in the North West Company
(later to
be merged with the Hudson Bay Company).

Irish-born Henrys arrived in Canada around the year 1811:

  • one
    was John Henery
    (subsequently Henry) from Cavan who came to Toronto and later moved
    with his
    family to a farm at Oshawa on Lake Ontario. His
    son the Rev. Thomas

    was a well-known minister of the Christian Church.
  • the
    other was Robert Henry from Newry in county Down who came to Halifax
    where he
    operated a timber business. His son
    William Alexander Henry became a prominent judge and politician in Nova

Australia and New Zealand. John
and his family from Ayrshire in Scotland came to Australia on the William Rodgers in 1838. John
was by trade a carpenter and they
settled in the Kiama district of NSW.

A Henry family migrated
to New Zealand from Midlothian in Scotland in the 1870’s. On arrival they founded a timber-milling
operation near Riverton in Southland.
Buttressed by their Presbyterian faith and an ethic for hard
work, they
established what was to become in the 1930’s one of New Zealand’s
industrial enterprises. At that time Sir
David Henry established the newer larger New Zealand Forests Products
Company. Other family members have
branched off into
the law and merchant banking.

Henry Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Henry Names

Alexander Henry was one of the pioneers of
the British fur trade
in Canada in the 1760’s.
Patrick Henry
a prominent planter,
orator and statesman in Virginia during the drive for
American independence in the late 18th century.
James McHenry
, of Scots Irish roots, was a
of the US Constitution for Maryland and served as the US Secretary of
War from
1796 to 1800.
O. Henry,
pen name of William
Sydney Porter, was a popular
short story writer of the late 19th century.

Lenny Henry
, the son
of Jamaican immigrants, is a stand-up English comedian, actor, and TV
Stephen Hendry
Scotland is one of the greatest snooker players ever, winning the world
championship seven times between 1990 and 1998

Select Henrys Today

  • 34,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 61,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 34,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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